For someone who considers brunch her favourite meal, this blog is curiously bereft of classic mid-morning fare. Consider this post a step in the right direction.
Growing up in my house, weekend breakfasts were dictated by a simple set of rules established who knows when for reasons unknown and unquestioned. Saturdays were reserved for W.'s whole wheat pancakes (occasionally with blueberries, when the season permitted) and Sundays we enjoyed cinnamon buns (with icing, when I did the picking).
Once in awhile and without warning, Mom would break the rules. These were my favourite days. On these breaks from the norm, we'd awaken to little baguette rounds of French toast, which we'd slather with homemade maple butter* and then more maple syrup for good measure.
The French version of French toast, pain perdu seems to appear most often on menus as a dessert, dressed up in various creams, sauces and fruits. But old habits die hard, so when I awoke last Sunday to a half-eaten, day-old pain brioche, I knew it wouldn't make it past morning.
There are people in this world who will do their darndest to try and convince you that any old bread will do for French toast. In fact, I too subscribed to this school of thought before tasting firsthand the magical power of brioche to turn simple eggs, milk and sugar into some kind of otherworldly custard.
Once you go brioche, you'll never go back.
Pain Perdu with Strawberries and Lemon-Scented Ricotta
4-5 slices of day-old pain brioche (brioche in the shape of a loaf)
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
butter for frying
2/3 cup ricotta
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon sugar
Slice the pain brioche into thick slices (about 1-inch).
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar. Stir until smooth and adjust to taste. Wash and prepare the strawberries
In another small bowl, beat the eggs well with a whisk. Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Add the milk and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Pour this mixture into a small, shallow pan.
Heat a frying pan to medium heat with a small bit of butter. Dip two slices of pain brioche into the batter and flip to ensure that both sides are well-coated. Place battered bread in the hot pan. Brown on both sides and serve immediately with lemon-scented ricotta, strawberries and a sprinkling of icing sugar.
* So simple, it's hardly a recipe. But so tasty, it would be a crime not to share it. Beat together equal parts unsalted butter (at room temperature) and maple syrup until smooth. Store in the fridge and serve cold with hot pancakes, waffles, French toast, you name it. Don't confuse this creation with the maple butter which you sometimes find in little jars (probably mostly in central Canada) and which actually contains no butter at all!